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    DEPUTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TRADE MINISTER FORECASTS GDP GROWTH AT ABOUT 5.8% THIS YEAR

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    MOSCOW, February 12, 2004. / RIA Novosti correspondent /. With high oil prices, Russia's gross domestic product may grow by 5.8% this year. This forecast was made by Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy economic development and trade minister, at a business lunch with businessmen Thursday.

    "With a favourable forecast /for oil prices/, GDP growth may reach 5.5-5.8%," Dvorkovich said. "With low /oil/ prices, the Russian economy will hardly grow by more than 4.5%," he added.

    Dvorkovich stressed that this indicator would depend, to a great extent, on the state of the world economy as a whole and, equally, on the state of the American economy.

    According to Dvorkovich, precisely in the event of a reduced trade deficit in the United States, world economic growth can be expected at the level of 4%, with high oil prices being maintained.

    "We hope that oil prices will stay high, at about 25.5-26 dollar per barrel," he noted.

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